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Protesters occupy Istanbul public square

中国日报网 2013-06-03 10:15

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Hundreds of people were occupying Istanbul's Taksim Square on Sunday, the epicenter of the worst demonstrations in a decade against Turkey's Islamist-rooted government which has seen almost 1,700 people detained and scores wounded nationwide.

Some protesters camped around the square's monument to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern secular Turkey, occasionally chanting "Government, resign!" and victory cheers after the riot police withdrew on Saturday.

Shopkeepers and municipal workers began cleaning the streets of Istanbul and Ankara on Sunday after the demonstrations.

Pockets of die-hard demonstrators lit bonfires and scuffled with police overnight but the streets were much quieter.

The unrest was triggered by protests against government plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks to house shops or apartments in Taksim, long a venue for political demonstrations.

But it has widened into a broader show of defiance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party.

Taksim has been at the heart of a wave of more than 90 demonstrations in 48 cities nation wide, the biggest public outcry against Erdogan's government since it assumed power in 2002.

Officials said 53 civilians and 26 police officers were hurt during the violence, while observers put the number of wounded in the hundreds and said there had been two deaths.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler said police had detained 1,700 people as of Saturday evening, but many have been released.

Turkey's Western allies Britain, France and the United States have called for the Erdogan government to exercise restraint, while Turkish officials acknowledged mistakes.

"We have learned our lesson," Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas told NTV on Saturday.

He said he regretted "not informing the people enough" on the details of the construction project in Taksim, the spark that led to the protests.

Speaking at a rally on Saturday, Erdogan acknowledged: "It is true that there have been some mistakes, extremism in the police response."

But he added: "I call on the protesters to stop their demonstrations immediately."

He also vowed to push forward with controversial plans to redevelop the square, but said the project may not include a shopping mall, as feared by protesters.

The Interior Ministry promised legal action against police officers who had acted" disproportionately".

President Abdullah Gul had called on Saturday for restraint on both sides.

Questions:

1. Where in Istanbul is the epicenter of the demonstrations?

2. Who is the Prime Minister of Turkey?

3. As of Saturday, how many people had been detained?

Answers:

1. Taksim Square.

2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

3. 1,700.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

 

About the broadcaster:

Lance Crayon is a videographer and editor with China Daily. Since living in Beijing he has worked for China Radio International (CRI) and Global Times. Before moving to China he worked in the film industry in Los Angeles as a talent agent and producer. He has a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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